When I was ordained, the Bishop asked us John Wesley’s historic question, “Are you going on to perfection?” Of course, we all answered, “Yes,” but I remember hearing a few snickers down the line and in the audience. Once when there were similar snickers in a class at Candler, Bishop Harman remarked: “If you aren’t going on to perfection, what are you intending to go on to . . . fair-to-middling?” Going on to perfection means that we are constantly trying to take the next step in becoming the person that God wants us to be. I suspect that if Wesley were here today, he might also ask: Is your congregation going on to perfection? As a church leader, how would you answer?
There seems to be a lot of perfectionist thinking regarding churches these days by some pretty defeated church leaders – at all levels. They have in their minds an absolute definition or statistical profile of what a missionally vital congregation should be. Judged against this perfect standard, many congregational leaders feel their congregation misses the mark so far that they might as well just give up. (Of course, this is understandable when people read official statements proclaiming that only 15% of UM congregations are missionally vital, according to the Towers-Watson Report.) What should leaders of the other 85% do?
- How can we be more effective at passing on God’s gracious welcome to the next generations in our community?
- How can we improve the ways we prepare a path into Christ’s presence in worship and assist people to respond to Him obediently?
- How can we do a better job of helping people become more like Jesus? (Intentional Discipling)
- How can we enhance how we are helping people discover their unique blessings and invest them in serving others and God’s purposes?
- How can we improve how we teach people to trust God’s sustaining “daily bread” and to share generously, as the Spirit prompts?
even if at times irritatingly so, consider forwarding it to
other leaders in your congregation and encouraging them to
sign up at www.congregationalexcellence.com.
JeffDr. Jeff Stiggins
The Center for Congregational Excellence